Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cornbread for Breakfast

Here's the cornbread recipe I promised you yesterday. I've got a photo of the finished product, but it's still in the digital camera, to which I have lost the cable (again!). I think we've had to get a new camera cable more often than a new battery. Surely it's around here somewhere... if you see a picture with this post, you'll know I found it.

This recipe is based on the almost-excellent Maple Cornbread recipe at Which is good, but a little too eggy and rich for my taste (and makes way too much for the 9" baking pan they say to use; if you do try their version, I suggest using a 9x13 pan.) I've made some changes to the ingredients (whole wheat flour, oat bran, yogurt), and cut back the overall quantity by about a third while reducing eggs and butter by half. I love two things about this recipe:

1) It's the best cornbread I've ever had (sorry, Epicurious/BonAppetit, but I like my version better than yours)

2) It's INCREDIBLY quick and easy! Incorporating cold butter into the dry ingredients in the food processor is a breeze compared to melting the butter separately! And you can do the wet stuff in the food processor, too.

Be advised that this is traditional NEW ENGLAND STYLE cornbread: dense, moist, and rich. If you're used to pale, wimpy, fluffy crap pretending to be cornbread, this might be a shock to your system.

If you want to cheat on the ingredients and use nasty imitation maple-flavored high fructose corn syrup crap instead of the real thing, or some sort of "I can't believe it's pretending to be butter" stuff, or fat-free milk and yogurt, I can't stop you... but I won't be held responsible for the quality of the finished product.


Preheat oven to 375° with rack in center of oven. Butter a non-stick 9" square baking pan. I use a Calphalon baking pan -- nice and heavy, produces a beautiful brown crust without overcooking the outside -- and all organic ingredients (with one exception, confessed below).

The Dry Stuff
1-1/2 C stoneground yellow cornmeal (Arrowhead Mills is a good brand)
2/3 C whole wheat pastry flour* (or 1/3 C each whole wheat and unbleached all-purpose flour)
2-3 T oat bran (optional)
2-1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

*TIP: Sift your flour before measuring it, or do as I do and just fluff the flour in the container with a fork. Scoop up a heaping measuring cup without compacting the flour at all, then use the flat edge of a knife to scrape excess from top.

Place all dry ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add:

4 T (1/2 stick) COLD unsalted butter, cut into small (1/4"-1/2") pieces

Pulse a few times until the butter is incorporated. Dump the cornmeal mixture into a medium mixing bowl.

Don’t bother washing food processor bowl, just it place back on the base. Add:

The Wet Stuff:
2 large eggs
1/2 C REAL maple syrup (not "maple-flavored pancake syrup"!)
1/2 C milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 C yogurt (whole or lowfat)
1 tsp vanilla or orange extract

Dump the wet stuff into the bowl over the dry ingredients and quickly mix it all together with a fork. It's okay if the batter is a little lumpy, but make sure there's no clump of dry stuff hiding at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t overmix: your goal is to be quick and get it into the pan (and oven) as soon as the batter comes together.

TIP: If your oven is slow to heat, check to make sure it's up to temperature before mixing the wet and dry together. Once the batter is combined it should go in the oven right away.

Bake until browned and cracked on top, and top springs back when gently pressed with finger. Approx. 35-40 min., but time may vary quite a bit, depending on your oven and baking pan. Cool in pan on rack.

I make this cornbread a lot, because I eat it for breakfast almost every morning. It keeps very well (wrapped in plastic) in the fridge for as long as it takes me to work my way through a pan, which is most of a week. Do be sure to let it cool COMPLETELY before refrigerating. If I've baked this in the evening I let it sit out on the counter overnight uncovered and refrigerate it the next day.

Some big-name foodies have gone on record as saying that cornbread is ONLY good hot straight out of the oven, and is useless once it achieves "left-over" status.

What is wrong with these people? Don't they own toasters?

Here's what I do: cut a nice piece (about 1/8 of the 9" pan), turn it on its side, and slice into two thinner slabs. Run it through your "normal-bread" toaster setting TWICE. A little unsalted butter and organic raspberry jam is my favorite topping, but honey is good, too.

Minor confession: I don't use organic maple syrup. I get my maple syrup at Costco, where I can afford to buy the kind of quantity involved in making this recipe on a weekly basis.


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